The Nearsightedness of Baltimore City Government

Thick Eyeglasses

Highly recommended for Baltimore’s Mayor and City Council

Thursday, July 1, 2021

If you’re like me, you watch one of the local Baltimore news stations when you’re putting on your jammies at the end a long day. With luck and cool sheets, you’ll be asleep before you hear the lead stories about murder and mayhem in the big city. Forget about all the wonderful and impressive things the people of Baltimore do every day. Crime is the lead story. No matter where you live in Maryland, if you watch the evening news on one of these stations, crime is last thing you hear about the state’s greatest city. Likewise, first thing in the morning if you get up watching local news. And it’s been this way, not just recently, but for decades.

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Workforce development is no “Field of Dreams.”

In the market for labor, “Workforce Development” is a supply-side concept. Labor is the product. Employers are the buyers. Without enough employers, there aren’t going to be enough jobs, however well-trained the workforce may be.

In Baltimore, the idea is that tens of thousands of unskilled and low-skilled unemployed and under-employed workers will spend months, or longer, training for work, acquiring knowledge and skills for certain job descriptions, but not for specific jobs with specific employers. And therein lies the problem. You go through whatever program you think makes sense and one day you graduate. Now what?

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Baltimore’s New Frontier

Kingfisher Free PressFree land. No property taxes. Abundant, affordable labor. Customers who spend just about every dollar they make. Financing, if you need it. In the perfect location to do business across the country and around the world. Baltimore’s disadvantaged neighborhoods are every entrepreneur’s teenage dream.

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Urban Blight?

Governor Hogan, Mayor Rawlings BlakeIn Sandtown yesterday, Governor Hogan with Mayor Rawlings-Blake announced an impressive $700 million program called CORE. The acronym stands for Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise. The link will take you to the official press release.

The idea is that a good number of selected vacant and abandoned structures in the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods will be torn down over the next 4 years and turned into green spaces that will be developed, eventually, into to mixed use commercial and residential facilities.

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Financing For Employers

If you’ve read our post entitled “Vacants-To-Jobs,” you know that Baltimore Rising is introducing legislation that gives employers who are willing to locate in the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods free property and no property taxes for 5 years. The simple, but nonetheless profound idea is that we’re going to make employers offers they can’t refuse to get them to do what too many businesses have avoided. We’re going to give them a compelling reason to set up shop in a neighborhood some of them don’t even want to drive through, much less park there, get out and spend the day. Heaven forbid, maybe go out to some local place for lunch.’

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As you may already know, there’s a Baltimore city government program called “Vacants-To-Value.” It’s primary purpose is to encourage people to refurbish and move into vacant property around the city – properties, mostly residential, that the government has taken over. The objective is to turn the huge number of abandoned properties around the city into homes that are attractive and well-maintained by resident-owners, many of whom will be new to the neighborhood.

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Eminent Domain

As you may have noticed, we have already posted a map of the 16,885 documented vacant structures in Baltimore. These structures – in addition to the thousands of vacant lots – are a potent tool for attracting desperately needed employers and new residents to the city.

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